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How to Access & Use VPNs In China and Russia in 2022 (Works)

August 2022 update: access to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other social platforms in Russia is now even more limited. It’s also becoming increasingly difficult to find payment methods that work since Visa and Mastercard no longer operate there. The good news is that ExpressVPN accepts payment methods that still work in both countries, like YooMoney (Yandex), Qiwi Wallet, Bitcoin, UnionPay, and WebMoney.

Russia and China are actively taking measures to block non-government-operated VPNs. You can’t even find their apps in the app stores in either of these countries. The ones that remain accessible are mostly government-approved ones disguised as VPNs.

Only a few VPNs with robust obfuscation technology can get around China’s and Russia’s VPN blocks. After detailed testing of almost 30 VPNs, my team and I came up with a list of the 4 that work reliably in both countries. They’re ultra-secure and privacy-focused, and some even have mirror websites that you can access to download the VPN from Russia or China.

Out of all those, ExpressVPN is my top pick because of its obfuscated servers that can easily bypass the VPN blocks in censorship-heavy countries. It also has a mirror website, so you can get it even if you’re already in one of these countries. You can even test it out for yourself risk-free because it comes with a reliable 30-day money-back guarantee. If it’s not working for you for some reason, you can get a full refund.

Quick Guide: How to Unblock VPNs in Russia or China in 3 Easy Steps

  1. Get a VPN. Ideally, you should do this before traveling to Russia or China. I recommend ExpressVPN because it works reliably in both countries, and it even has a mirror website so you can download it from there.
  2. Connect to a nearby server. This gives you the fastest speeds. For example, you can choose a server in Japan if you’re in China.
  3. Start using your VPN. Once connected to a server, your traffic is encrypted, and you can enjoy unrestricted internet. Some VPNs may require additional setup to work.

Try ExpressVPN Today

Why You Need a Premium VPN in Russia or China

Both Russian and Chinese governments use a combination of legislative actions and restrictive technologies to monitor and censor internet use. Since virtual private networks are used to fight censorship, they have been trying to control or block VPN use as well. Only a handful of VPNs with solid obfuscation technology can work there.

In 2019, Roskomnadzor, Russia's supervision agency and internet regulator, started to compile a centralized blacklist. The list, called the Single Register, contains websites and IP addresses that should be blocked in the government’s opinion. Since then, they have tried getting VPN providers to block these apps and websites and even log user activity. Many refused, though, and even removed their physical servers from Russia.

Similarly, The Great Firewall of China uses sophisticated VPN blocking technology. Both countries also use a method of examining data called deep packet inspection (DPI) to control internet traffic. China has banned the use of all non-government-approved VPNs and proclaimed the unauthorized ones illegal. The VPN technology is used and allowed, though.

However, a VPN with robust obfuscation and security features can work even there. Aside from sending your traffic through an encrypted tunnel, a premium VPN makes itself undetectable, so it can work in internet-monitored countries. Advanced obfuscation technology allows it to get around even the most sophisticated blocks in countries such as China and Russia.

Important! China and Russia have been fighting VPNs primarily by technologically blocking them, not by going after people who use them. Still, you should always take precautions and inform yourself about current laws. Neither my team nor I condone any illegal activities while using VPNs.

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Best VPNs that Work in Russia or China in 2022

1. ExpressVPN — Obfuscated Servers That Reliably Bypass VPN Blocks in China and Russia

  • Best at bypassing VPN blocks thanks to its robust obfuscation technology
  • Mirror website so that you to get the VPN even while in Russia and China
  • AES 256-bit encryption and HMAC authentication code making it virtually uncrackable
  • Blazing-fast speeds for a smooth surfing experience
  • Can unblock: Facebook, WhatsApp, Skype, Twitter, YouTube, Netflix, Tinder, and more
  • Compatible with: Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Linux, routers, Apple TV, and more
ExpressVPN Offer August 2022: For a limited time only, you can get an ExpressVPN subscription for up to 49% off! Don't miss out!

ExpressVPN uses sophisticated obfuscation technology to make sure it remains undetected. This allows it to pass through the firewalls and DPI used to inspect and block VPNs. Your VPN traffic looks like regular HTTPS traffic, and your ISP or anyone monitoring the internet can’t detect it. ExpressVPN works reliably to bypass VPN blocks in both countries, as confirmed by our team there. Its support also gave me a tip to set the protocol to automatic and choose one of the following server locations:

  • Japan — Yokohama
  • USA – Los Angeles — 5
  • Singapore — Marina Bay
  • UK – Wembley
  • USA — Santa Monica
  • France — Alsace
Screenshot of ExpressVPN's customer support reply to my question about whether the VPN would work in restrictive countries like China or Russia

When you set the protocol to “Automatic,” ExpressVPN will choose the best one for you

Its TrustedServer feature ensures everything runs only on RAM memory which means all information on its servers is deleted after each reboot. Since there is nothing to recover, there is no way the ISP or anyone else can see any online activities. I always use ExpressVPN while traveling to censorship-heavy countries because this feature allows you to remain completely safe while giving you access to the unrestricted internet.

ExpressVPN’s kill switch called Network Lock is another safety precaution to ensure none of your data leaks. If the VPN malfunctions, your internet connection is cut off. That way, you are surfing protected at all times. You can turn this feature on by clicking the General tab and ticking the box that says: “Stop all internet traffic if the VPN disconnects unexpectedly.” I have tested ExpressVPN’s kill switch numerous times by force-stopping the VPN, and it always worked by disconnecting me from the internet.

ExpressVPN offers different subscription plans which differ only in length. Long-term deals give you a better value for your money, though.

Even though ExpressVPN comes at a slightly higher price — starting at $6.67/month, it often has discounts and deals that make it worth it, so you can get up to 49% off. Plus, I came at the perfect time and even got 3 months free when I signed up.

Besides, it comes with a reliable 30-day money-back guarantee. In case you are not 100% happy with it, you can get a full refund. I asked for a refund using its 24/7 live chat feature, and it was processed after a quick chat. The money was back in my PayPal account in less than 72 hours.

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2. Astrill VPN — Stealth Mode to Smoothly Bypass the Firewalls and DPI

  • StealthVPN makes the VPN traffic look like regular traffic, so it bypasses the blocks
  • Chinese-optimized, and servers in Russia
  • Strong encryption that keeps your online activities and data private
  • Can unblock: Facebook, WhatsApp, Skype, Twitter, YouTube, Netflix, Tinder, and more
  • Compatible with: Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Linux, routers, Apple TV, and more

Astrill VPN works in China and Russia thanks to its proprietary StealthVPN protocol, which hides the fact that the VPN is on. This is crucial in internet-restricted countries because they use sophisticated VPN-detection technologies. Stealth is its “untraceable” protocol that makes the VPN traffic appear like usual HTTPS traffic. It successfully bypasses VPN blocks and deep packet inspection (DPI), as tested by our team in Russia and China.

Its Smart mode is an additional feature you can use to surf without any trace of a VPN. With this mode, you get a local IP (Chinese or Russian) instead of a foreign one, which helps you blend in with the regional IPs. This is important because the methods used by the Chinese and Russian governments have become advanced enough to detect specific VPN IP addresses when accessing a site. I was also happy that this feature didn’t slow down my speeds at all.

It also has special servers for China and several servers in Russia. I’ve tested Astrill VPN’s China-optimized servers, and they all proved to have no leaks and were reliable at getting around the restrictions, including the Great Firewall. I’ve also used its servers in Russia, and the connection was always stable without any noticeable slowdown.

Screenshot of Astrill VPN's China and Russia server list within the app

For better connection stability and speed, you can use Astrill’s China-optimized servers while there

Just like ExpressVPN, I also found that Astrill VPN has a special website accessible from China or Russia. Very few providers have this, and it’s a massive advantage since both governments block access to many foreign VPNs. This way, you can install Astrill VPN even when you’re already in one of these countries.

Astrill VPN’s starting price is $12.50/month, which is more than average but acceptable for a VPN loaded with such strong features.

It offers no refunds, but Astrill recommends that if you just want to try it out, you should go for the shortest plan available. However, it has an Invite Friends System that allows you to try it out for free. The friend you invite has to purchase the subscription, and then you can use it for up to 30 days for free.

Get Astrill VPN Now

3. VyprVPN — Chameleon Protocol That Bypasses Restrictions and Blocks in Russia and China

  • An in-house developed protocol that works in countries with heavy censorship
  • Strict no-log policy keeping all data confidential
  • Kill switch that blocks internet connection whenever the VPN disconnects
  • Can unblock: Facebook, WhatsApp, Skype, Twitter, YouTube, Netflix, Tinder, and more
  • Compatible with: Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Linux, routers, Apple TV, and more

VyprVPN’s Chameleon protocol is designed to bypass DPI, VPN blocking, and ISP throttling. It scrambles packet metadata to ensure it's not detectable by deep packet inspection. That makes it especially good at overcoming restrictions in censored countries such as Russia and China. This protocol is also lightweight and fast, and I didn’t have any connection issues or significant slowdowns.

Chameleon also uses a Smart IP feature which makes the VPN completely undetectable because it changes server IP throughout the session. This way, it is much harder to detect its use, so it works successfully in internet-restricted countries.

I was also pleasantly surprised by its fast and consistent connection speeds and great uptime, which means the servers are reliable. Even though the speed was not as fast as with ExpressVPN, I still found it good and reliable enough for everyday surfing. I had about 19% loss in download speed and 23% loss in upload speed using VyprVPN’s server in Moscow. My baseline speed was 155 Mbps, and with VyprVPN, it dropped to 125 Mbps on average.

Screenshot of VyprVPN's speed tets results using its server in Moscow

You can count on about a 20% loss in download speed with VyprVPN

VyprVPN is a publicly audited no-log VPN. Whenever a third party does an independent evaluation, you know it’s not just a marketing buzzword. You rest assured this VPN does not collect any personally identifiable information.

What I wasn’t so thrilled about is that it offers no cryptocurrency payments, which are great if you want to remain private. Still, it does accept credit cards, PayPal, and Amazon Pay, so you’ll still have plenty of options.

VyprVPN has 2 plans only, with the prices starting at $8.33/month. I even got it with a 44% off with its long-term subscription when I signed up.

It also offers a 30-day money-back guarantee, so you can test it out risk-free. I asked for a refund after 2 weeks and had to answer 1 troubleshooting question before I could get my refund approval.

Get VyprVPN Now

4. PrivateVPN — Stealth Technology That Helps the VPN Remain Undetectable in Russia and China

  • Stealth VPN mode makes the VPN invisible, so it bypasses blocks and firewalls
  • A variety of VPN protocols to choose from to adjust to your specific needs
  • In-house developers and professional support if you ever need help
  • Can unblock: Facebook, WhatsApp, Skype, Twitter, YouTube, Netflix, Tinder, and more
  • Compatible with: Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Linux, routers, Apple TV, and more

With its Stealth mode turned on, PrivateVPN can easily bypass VPN blocks in countries such as Russia, China, UAE. It makes your VPN traffic look like regular web traffic, so not even deep packet inspection used by Chinese and Russian firewalls can detect it. While testing PrivateVPN’s Smart mode, I’ve mostly used it on my MacBook, and all I needed to do was choose a port (22 or 443).

Screenshot of how to turn on PrivateVPN's Stealth mode feature within its app for Mac users

You need to turn the Stealth VPN mode manually inside the PrivateVPN’s app

As the name suggests, PrivateVPN is heavily focused on privacy, so you can have a piece of mind that your personal details are never shared. I’ve taken a close look into its privacy policy, and it is a strictly no-log VPN, which is crucial in privacy-unfriendly countries such as China and Russia.

Its speeds are also solid. Perhaps not as fast as ExpressVPN’s and VyprVPN’s, but still consistent. I’ve tested PrivateVPN’s servers in Hong Kong and in Russia (Krasnoyarsk and Moscow). It didn’t slow my speed by more than 20%, which is normal for a VPN.

Compared to some other VPNs on my list, PrivateVPN doesn’t have the largest server network. Still, all servers worked great for me every time for bypassing any type of censorship or geo-blocks.

PrivateVPN is budget-friendly, costing $2/month for its long-term plan, and I even paid 85% less for my subscription at the time.

You can claim your money back in a maximum of 30 days if you find it’s not working for you. To test it out, after 12 days, I asked for a full refund. Its support team asked me a couple of questions as to why I was leaving. After a short chat, they approved my refund request, and I had my money back in 4 days.

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How to Sign Up for a VPN in Russia or China?

The first and most important step is to choose the right VPN. Not all VPNs can bypass heavy censorship. As already mentioned — my top recommendation is ExpressVPN. It has obfuscated servers, excellent speeds, and it works right away with no additional set-ups.

Warning. Many VPN websites are blocked in Russia and China, so you won’t always be able to download the VPN while there. Some VPNs, like ExpressVPN, allow accessing it from a Tor version of it. Still, I believe the best alternative would be to get a VPN before traveling to Russia or China.

Here’s how to set up ExpressVPN in China or Russia:

  1. Download the ExpressVPN app for your device (it supports all major OS and devices).
  2. Install the app — the installation is very straightforward; all you need to do is follow the prompts.
  3. Open the ExpressVPN app and sign in.
  4. Select a server you want (e.g., Yokohama, Wembley, or Santa Monica) and click the Connect button.
    A screenshot of ExpressVPN's server list within the app

    ExpressVPN has an intuitive app design, so you’ll find the server you need

  5. You can minimize the app, and the VPN will run in the background.
  6. Open your browser and enjoy the unrestricted internet.

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FAQs on Unblocking VPNs in China or Russia

Are VPNs legal in China or Russia?

Even though VPN technology is used in both countries, almost all non-government-approved VPNs are blocked or illegal. There have been no cases of prosecuting tourists for using VPNs in Russia or China, but you should be cautious. The laws are always changing, so it is crucial to stay informed. All the VPNs on my list have excellent privacy features, so your personal information remains safe even in heavy-censorship countries.

It also often depends on the local government. In China, for example, the laws may differ from province to province. Tibet and Xinjiang, for example, are denied internet access most of the day, except for a few hours.

Which VPNs work in China and Russia?

Only top-tier VPNs that use obfuscation can work in high-censorship countries, and the ones I recommended are among them. My top pick is ExpressVPN because it functions even in high-censorship countries without any further tweaks. It also has a mirror website so you can get it even while in China or Russia. Other VPNs on my list are also effective, although some need a bit of customization to make sure they can bypass the firewalls and VPN blocks.

How do VPNs work in China and Russia?

In internet-restricted countries, VPNs can only work by using strong obfuscation technology, which makes them undetectable. However, most don’t have what it takes to go through the firewalls and blocks. These countries use different methods to block VPNs, such as deep packet inspection (a filtering method) or blocking IPs of known VPN servers. With those measures in place, you need a VPN with sophisticated obfuscation and privacy features.

Can you use a free VPN in China or Russia?

I don’t recommend using free VPNs because they won’t work or keep you safe. Instead, my advice is to get a reliable VPN with robust security features proven to work in China and Russia. A CSIRO study of 283 Android VPNs showed that 38% contained malware, 84% leaked your IP address, and 75% used trackers. To earn revenue, free VPNs often sell users’ data to third-parties for advertising purposes. In most cases, they can’t bypass firewalls or unblock sites like Facebook, Netflix, or WhatsApp because their technology isn’t strong enough.

Try ExpressVPN Now

Start Using VPNs in Russia or China Now

China’s Great Firewall and Russia’s Single Register are used to selectively block “unwanted” content and apps, including VPNs. Over time, the firewalls and DPI deployed by the governments have become advanced enough to detect most VPNs. Only a few providers that use sophisticated obfuscation technology can work in those countries.

My first choice is ExpressVPN because it uses advanced obfuscation, and it even has a mirror website you can access from China or Russia. It also comes with a reliable 30-day money-back guarantee. In case you are not completely satisfied, you can easily get your money back.

To summarize, the best VPNs for Russia or China are…

Privacy Alert!

Your data is exposed to the websites you visit!

Your IP Address:

Your Location:

Your Internet Provider:

The information above can be used to track you, target you for ads, and monitor what you do online.

VPNs can help you hide this information from websites so that you are protected at all times. We recommend ExpressVPN — the #1 VPN out of over 350 providers we've tested. It has military-grade encryption and privacy features that will ensure your digital security, plus — it's currently offering 49% off.

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About the Author

Aleksandra is a seasoned copywriter with a background in languages and hands-on experience in customer data privacy and social media monitoring. She combines her two biggest passions, love for the written word with technology, to craft well-researched copy.

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